Phoenix Dan Cong Duck Honey Snowflake/SerendipiTea Studios. . . .

Gongfu Brewing. . .something has always scared me away from trying to brew tea up in the tea ceremonial fashion and kept me to western brewing.  I think scared may be the incorrect word. I think intimidated is better.

I was intimidated by the amount of teaware you had to have, intimidated by having the right teaware, and also intimidated by making a complete fool out of myself for trying. But when March rolled around and I turned 40-I finally convinced myself it was time to finally immerse myself into learning something new.

And learn something I did.  I found myself taking notes after notes from different videos on YouTube from amazing tea bloggers like Tea for Me Please and tea companies like Mei Leaf.  By the time it was all said and done, I found tea ware that I already had that would work to get the party started.

So to test this out, I took a sample of Phoenix Dan Cong Duck Honey Snowflake from Serendipitea Studios and brewed the tea both in the gongfu method and western style.  The different was night and day.

With the gongfu method, I was able to get these rich gorgeous notes of sweet floral that I was not getting with the western style.  These pops of sweet floral thrilled my tastebuds and I found myself eagerly drinking this tea down.  Towards the middle brewing sessions, I would find myself describing the tea as being delicate but with a bit of power behind it.  Yes this tea is delicate but this tea demands your full attention as well. There was also this slight savory touch that I could note here and there but couldn’t really pull what I would compare the taste to.

With the western style, I was still able to pull out those beautiful floral notes with a sweet touch but I will say that the flavors were not as bold and not as alluring. Still delicious but I would say I prefer the gongfu method for this particular tea. The flavors were just more pronounced and more on point.

Regardless of how you brew this tea, this tea is fabulous and one that I will be getting more of for myself soon.  I’m beyond thrilled with the tea itself and have found myself wanting more so I may be ordering quicker than I intended to.  Smooth, lush, floral, with just a hit of a contrasting flavor here and there. Can’t ask for more from your tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy:  Serendipitea Studios

Description

Elegant just like its name, Duck Honey Snowflake is a seasonal winter hand-picked harvest of regular Duck Honey Aroma all-natural tea. This winter version is much more florally delicate than the regular and contrasted to caramel like sweetness, its sweetness brings a rather icy wintry feel.

From the coastal area in Canton province, Phoenix Mountain possesses mineral-rich soil and is constantly surrounded by mists and fog, covered by wild tea tress and tea farms, as well as the folklore of the Phoenix Dan Cong Tea. Many wild tea trees are at least 100 to 200 years old.

It’s a special type of organic Oolong treasured for its highly distinctive natural aroma, and is also believed to be the ancestor of all Oolong teas. Well-known for its ten aromatic categories, it delivers rich and complex flavor. Local tea scholars and connoisseurs from China study and try to organize these all-natural teas into hundreds aromatic subgroups. Mandarin uses the word ‘Xiang’ or aroma for each specific type that mimics certain flower or fruit aroma. Phoenix Dan Cong’s aroma is never artificially added or perfumed but exclusively cultivated, artisan crafted, and each aroma comes from the tea plant’s natural aromatic compound.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Gingerbread Latte/A Quarter To Tea

I only recently became a fan of gingerbread and I am a picky one. I like gingerbread just so and I like just enough ginger in food or drink to make it sparkle but not enough to bite!

I am happy to say that this blend is the good kind of gingerbread. I made it as a plain hot tea first in six ounces water with no sugar and it was very good and very flavorful with a steeping time of just over three minutes. Ginger is the main note, followed by cinnamon.

But it is called Gingerbread LATTE so even though I don’t usually add milk and sugar to my tea, I do like lattes – a LOT, even though I rarely drink them. So I heated six ounces of milk with two teaspoons of sugar, and then plopped the infuser basket in for four minutes.

The milk is now a creamy color with little specks of cinnamon and spice swirling in it. Ginger is still up front with cinnamon a close second. The taste and texture of this drink would totally satisfy me as a dessert, no cake or pie needed. The flavor lingers for a long time.

Another A+ for A Quarter To Tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  A Quarter To Tea

Description

This tea is no longer available but click below for tea blends that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Thorns and Roses/Grimoire Tea

When you purchase tea from Grimoire Tea, they arrive in the cutest little bottles with the most unique labels giving the name and description of the tea purchased. You can tell that she takes the time to really think about what she is representing when coming up with her labels. The top is reinforced by a solid layer of colored wax. This company could not have been more unique with their packaging! I just love her presentation!

I was immediately able to smell the green tea but it was also incredibly floral due to the jasmine and rose petals. There was also a mild fruity sweetness that I attributed to the elderberry. It was a very pretty tea to look at.

Thorns and Roses steeped to a pretty rose gold color. I really enjoyed the steeping process of this tea. In the beginning, it was a pale yellow, as most green teas are when they steep. As the tea continued to steep, it slowly began to change color as the elderberry warmed up.

The flavor was very floral with a soft, sweet aftertaste. The elderberry was able to soften the rose and jasmine which, for me, made it even more enjoyable. I did not add any sweetener to this tea but you absolutely could, if you wanted to bring out a little more of the elderberry sweetness.

This would make a really nice evening tea to help you relax at the end of the day. Jasmine is known to help relax the senses. While this may not be a tea I would keep on hand, I did enjoy the sample. If you enjoy floral green teas you will love Thorns and Roses by Grimoire Tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Grimoire Tea

Description

This tea does not appear to currently be available but click below for teas that are.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Golden Jin Xuan Oolong/Totealy

I am one of those people that never wins anything. I do weekly giveaways on my Instagram and I LOVE to give tea samples away! But I never WIN anything. Well, I can’t say that anymore. I entered a giveaway on Totealy’s Instagram page and actually WON! WHAT?! They sent me 4 “mystery teas” and I was so excited to open them!

When I opened this mystery bag I was greeted by an incredible sweet, milky aroma. I could have sat there and smelled it all day. In all honesty, I probably sat there for about 5 minutes. I immediately knew that it was a milk oolong and I was SO excited! I have never had the opportunity to try a milk oolong and I have always wanted to! Just my luck that my first tea from Totealy would be on my wish list! The curled tea leaves were absolutely beautiful. This was going to make an amazing cup of tea.

The instructions on the card are very clear. Steep Golden Jin Xuan at 205ºF for 1.5 minutes. It then goes on to explain that brewing for a shorter time will bring out the floral aromas and longer to bring out the creaminess. It also explains that you can brew their teas multiple times.

Since I could already smell the amazing sweetness of the florals I decided to start with their recommended 1.5 minutes. I could absolutely get the sweet floral aroma when steeped for this time. It didn’t have the creaminess that I wanted so I decided to steep again. I added 30 seconds to the same tea leaves. The flavor completely transformed. It was incredible how smooth the tea was with a perfect amount of sweetness and grassy “tea” flavor. I was able to get 4 solid steeps out of Totealy’s Golden Jin Xuan. I probably could have gotten a 5th but it had lost its creaminess.

Overall, I was thrilled with my first experience with a Milk Oolong. It was exactly as I hoped and expected. Totealy has an amazing quality Golden Jin Xuan that is wonderful from the moment I opened the bag and was engulfed in that sweet floral creaminess to each individual steep.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Totealy

Description

Our sweetest tea, Golden Jin Xuan hails from Taiwan’s Pear Mountain, where it is cultivated at 3,300 ft. After harvest, the Jin Xuan leaves are bathed in natural milk flavors, resulting in a nourishing brew for both tea newcomers and seasoned sippers alike.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

I Will Not Faint/Adagio Teas

Before I get started on this review, I have to disclose that I designed this Miss-Davenport-from-Space-Cases-themed tea myself. I don’t get any proceeds from it. Those go to a charity I think the character would have supported.

ANYWAY.

Making this tea was an adventure. I don’t know how to design or proportion a good tea. Adagio doesn’t really give guidance; it just lets you jump in there and throw stuff in the pot in whatever ratio you’d like.

I just put some stuff in this blend that felt appropriate to the character. She’s English (Earl Grey) and obsessed with waffles (caramel rooibos) and strawberries (strawberry tisane). This is a low-caffeine tea because the character is stressed out pretty much all the time. The last thing she needs is more zing in her fret.

The result smells like CRACK. You should smell this thing. Creamy and Earl-y and rich with berries.

The taste, however… is okay… but not great. I think that all the strawberry I hurled in there might have too much hibiscus lurking in it.

The flavor is, like, tangy? And not in the best way?

When I swallow, it’s great. But when it’s actively being sipped and in my mouth, it’s both bland and a bit much.

This might actually be good iced. Hot, it’s meh.

I feel like I might have messed this up a little bit, but you live, you learn. Feel free to try it, though, and all of the other Space Cases themed teas I made. Every single one has proceeds that go to charity. I am not taking your money, which is for the best, because I can’t promise any of them are good.

Ah, Adagio. You are the tea world’s Willie Wonka factory, and I appreciate you.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Adagio Teas

Description

This tea is a signature blend.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!